The applications for aluminum hydroxide seem nearly endless. It is used as a water purifier, a mordant in dyes, an enhancer in photographic development processes, and as an ingredient in cosmetics and in a number of medicines. It also has uses in the construction industry and in ceramics. It is one of the most versatile of the aluminum compounds.
The ability of aluminum hydroxide to neutralize acids makes it a natural choice as an antacid. It also has a stimulating effect on the immune system and is used in the preparation of the tetanus, hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines. Since it binds with phosphates it is used to treat kidney patients with renal failure who build up high levels of phosphates in their blood. Once the phosphates bind with aluminum hydroxide they can be easily flushed from the patientís body.
Use in Cosmetics
Since this alumina is stable and non toxic to humans, it is used in a variety of cosmetic and skin care products including eye makeups and lipsticks. It is also an additive in suntan products, skin cleansers, moisturizers and body lotions. Aluminum hydroxide is an ingredient in many personal care products including deodorants, toothpastes, shampoos, conditioners, suntan products, and body lotions. It acts as a skin protectant, astringent and a pigment in this application.
Aluminum hydroxide is added to cement to create concrete products. Cement with high alumina content dries quickly particularly when subjected to heat. It is also used in the production of both industrial grade and household ceramics and glass. The primary reason for adding this alumina to glass is to make the glass heat resistant since the alumina has a high melting point. Mixed with polymers, it makes an excellent fire retardant.
Alumina in Textiles
Since aluminum hydroxide is not soluble in water it can be used in the textile industry to waterproof cloth. It is also used as a mordant with vegetables dyes to make the color bind to the fabric. When fabrics are resistant to dyes a mordant is applied to allow the dyes to penetrate the fabric. Some fabrics are highly flammable and the application of aluminum hydroxide makes them flame resistant.
Additional Aluminum Hydroxide Uses
Like other aluminum compounds, aluminum hydroxide is used in water purification and sewage treatment plants to remove impurities and particulates. It is also used as both a preservative and an extender in inks. In laboratories it is frequently used in chromatography, the separating of chemicals into their individual compounds. Another use is in the production of fine paper productions to purify the water before mixture into the pulp and as a binding agent in the pulp.
While some alumina compounds cause adverse reactions in humans, aluminum hydroxide has no adverse effects for the majority of individuals. Its use in everyday products is widespread and its properties give it many applications in industry and home use. While it is not a familiar product in itself, it is contained in or used to enhance many of the products people use every day.